Design is not the Sharp Aquos LC-52D85U HDTV's strong point. The on-screen menus, the remote, and even the manual could have used some friendliness training.But this $1600 (as of April 16, 2009) LCD model does well on the most important criterion, image quality.
In our PC World Test Center evaluations, it tied with the LG Electronics 52LG70 LCD model for third place overall in its category. Our judges tended to give it Good or Very Good ratings on most measures, and one juror praised the set's ability to show details.Even so, our judges detected some shortcomings: One noted visible artifacting, and another complained that colors looked washed out in a 480p DVD. I noticed pixelation, and found many scenes excessively bright. And though this set has a 120Hz refresh rate, we saw no evidence in our NASCAR clip that its faster refresh helped smooth out motion.
The Sharp delivers acceptable audio, but its artificial surround sound exhibited no real depth, and an organ blast had no oomph. Loud sounds suffered from slight harshness.
The remote is freckled with tiny, difficult-to-press buttons. Though it has a backlight, the feature doesn't provide much help in the dark. Press the Light button (which glows quite nicely), and only the elongated Volume and Channel buttons, plus four others, light up. Since the labels aren't illuminated, it's unclear which button is which. Click the Input button, and you get a list of all available inputs, whether they have hardware connected to them or not.
This HDTV does not support picture-in-picture or have any multimedia capabilities via USB, SD Card, or ethernet. At $1600, the LC-52D85U provides the best picture for its price among the big sets. It's not the easiest model to use, and it lacks some features, but it also costs $250 less than the top-rated Samsung PN50A760.